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“Telling the Weather Story” report from Insurance Bureau of Canada authored by Dr. Gordon McBean

A major report titled Telling the Weather Story: Can Canada Manage the Storms Ahead? Has been released by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

The report was prepared by Gordon McBean (author of ACT’s Extreme Weather Events Report), Paul Kovacs, Jim Bruce, Dan Sandink; and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) team building on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific literature and ICLR reports.

The report was presented on Monday June 4, 2012 to the Empire Club in Toronto. Find more information including a news clip at: http://www.ibc.ca/en/Natural_Disasters/Weather_Story.asp

For years, IBC has played a leadership role in conducting research and developing sound strategies to help Canadians protect themselves [e.g., the Dry House interactive display and iPad app]. Because sound research into severe weather trends is critical, IBC commissioned Dr. Gordon McBean – one of Canada’s foremost climatologists – to research climate trends in Canada. The goal of the research is to understand the role of severe weather in the increasing damages to personal and commercial properties.

This research will help IBC work with Canadians to manage the stormy weather ahead.

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Navigating our Water Future: Lessons from Australia and Europe

SAVE THE DATE!

A Public Lecture & Discussion Hosted by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at the Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria

WHEN: Monday June 18th, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: University of Victoria, Hickman Building, Room 105

You are invited to a public lecture by internationally renowned water experts Professor Lee Godden (University of Melbourne) and Professor Tim O’Riordon (University of East Anglia). The discussion will focus on water as the main challenge facing Canada in the 21st century, drawing on trends, issues, and successful approaches that have been taken in both Australia and Europe.

For many years, Australia and Europe have faced serious problems with the management and governance of their water resources—from the effects of severe drought, to the challenges of jurisdictional fragmentation, unclear responsibilities, and disconnected governance. These challenges offer a glimpse into Canada’s water future.

Australians and Europeans are tackling these problems with a variety of innovative approaches that can offer Canadians important direction as we contemplate our challenges ahead. Professors Godden and O’Riordan will offer lessons from their home regions. Their talks will be followed by a focused discussion with Professor Rob de Loë (Research Chair Water Policy and Governance, University of Waterloo) on how these lessons can be applied in the Canadian context, moderated by the University of Victoria’s Oliver M. Brandes of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance.

This event is being hosted by the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance in partnership with the British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Water Resources Association (BC-CWRA)BC Water & Waste AssociationPartnership for Water Sustainability in BCUniversity of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, and Water Canada Magazine.

For more information please visit http://poliswaterproject.org/story/463 or contact Laura Brandes at communications@polisproject.org or 250-721-8189.

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BlackOutSpeakOut

Our land, water and climate are all threatened by the latest federal budget. Proposed changes in the budget bill will weaken environmental laws and silence the voices of those who seek to defend them. Silence is not an option. Speak out today in defence of two core Canadian values: Nature and Democracy.

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Science-based Management of Alberta’s Rivers Necessary to Prevent Water Shortages and Pollution

Edmonton, Alberta — In Alberta, we rely our rivers for recreational opportunities, like fishing and canoeing, and for clean, safe water supplies for our drinking water and economic development. Water Matters has released a detailed blueprint about how to use science-based management to ensure that Alberta’s rivers remain healthy, and economically and culturally beneficial over the long term. The first of three reports about water management in Alberta, Maintaining Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems by Protecting Instream Flow Needs provides clear, achievable recommendations for improving river and watershed management in Alberta.

River health in much of Alberta has been declining because of land-use changes, dam construction, and surface and groundwater withdrawals. “In most cases, decisions are made on a piece-meal, project-by-project basis, and without any consideration of cumulative effects of regional human activities, or the serious threat that climate change poses to Alberta’s water supplies,” says Dr. Bill Donahue, Director of Science and Policy for Water Matters, an Alberta-based water policy think tank.  “The result is that many of our rivers have been dying a slow death by a thousand cuts, and we remain unprepared for significant future droughts.”

In 2003, Alberta adopted its Water for Life Strategy, which includes clearly defined goals to maintain safe, secure drinking water for Albertans, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and reliable, high-quality water supplies for a sustainable economy. All three goals encompass a public interest in sustainable, healthy water supplies and aquatic ecosystems. Unfortunately, decision-making in Alberta tends to prioritize short-term economic considerations over environmental sustainability. Our laws and regulations also tend to water down environmental assessment and protection, increasing the likelihood of failing to achieving the Water for Life goals. “The degree to which we protect and preserve river health will determine our success in achieving the goals of the Water for Life Strategy,” says Julia Ko, Project Coordinator for Water Matters and report co-author.

In Maintaining Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems, Water Matters illustrates how Albertans can achieve the goals laid out in the Water for Life Strategy. The first recommendation is to adopt a science-based framework for decision making that prioritizes the maintenance of river health in watershed planning. Other recommendations include amending the Water Act to clearly define science-based water conservation objectives, as well as allowing unused water allocations to remain in rivers to maintain environmental health.

Maintaining Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems by Protecting Instream Flow Needs is part of an innovative project to engage stakeholders in discussions that explore the policy and operational opportunities for improving water management in Alberta. The goal is to find ways to shift to science-based management of the use, allocation, and conservation of water in ways that sustain and ensure a healthy environment now and in the future, while also supporting our social and economic goals.

Download Sharing our Rivers: How Albertans can Maintain Healthy Rivers, Communities, and Economies (PDF)

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dr. Bill Donahue
Director of Policy and Science
780-463-3971
780-566-4680 (cell)
bill@water-matters.org

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Cross-Canada Tour Reveals National Concern About Water

Canadians are beginning to see their most precious resource threatened by increased demand and climate change

Winnipeg, May 23, 2012: Canadians use more water than almost anyone on earth, a whopping 329 litres a day. We use so much water that in the summer, 50 per cent goes on the lawn or the garden.

Our attitude towards our most precious resource highlighted a 16-city cross-Canada tour last October and November conducted by Canmore-based Bob Sandford, co-chair of the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW) and one of Canada’s foremost water experts. Over a two-month period, Sandford talked to hundreds of Canadians, getting a first-hand account of the state of fresh water across the country – the first time since the 1980s that anyone has taken the national pulse on water.

The 42-page report on the tour documents the growing need for solutions that transcend chronic jurisdictional challenges. Sandford will release the report today at noon CDT at the 2012 Living Lakes Canada Gathering held at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg at 288 Portage Avenue. The report, Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on our Water Future, is co-authored by Jesse Baltutis of the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, and Timothy Shah of Simon Fraser University’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), with guidance from Sandford. Both POLIS and ACT were partners with FLOW for the tour and the report.

The way Canadians use water, it appears we think we have an endless supply, noted Sandford. Yet, as revealed in the national tour conducted last fall, some of us, at least, are growing concerned about water – a concern fuelled by climate change – and an urgent call for a national water strategy is emerging.

Everywhere he went, Sandford discovered Canadians face pressing issues driven jointly by climate change and increasing demands on a finite resource.

“It’s clear that surface and groundwater contamination is widespread in every province and availability issues are intensifying,” says Sandford of his experiences. “Yet, there’s still a prevailing attitude in this country that our water is limitless, clean, and that there is little need for concern regarding pollutants.”

At the same time as he gathered information, Sandford presented a possible model for a national strategy, a new water stewardship plan from the Northwest Territories (NWT) that he had a hand in creating.

“The NWT achievement illustrates that governments, despite the challenges, can protect the long-term interests of the citizens without damaging the environment,” says Sandford. “It’s a real model that any government can follow, and demonstrates that it is possible to work with a multitude of partners with a variety of agendas to put through comprehensive water management plans.”

The tour experience has left Sandford with a profound conviction that Canadians see water as our most precious resource, more important than oil or gas. “Unlike any other issue in Canada, water has the power to unite us,” he says. “These threats need to be addressed now so we can continue to supply clean water for our families and communities into the future.”

The Cross-Canada Checkup report captures the importance of Sandford’s 16-city tour, says co-author Jesse Baltutis. “It provides a sweeping picture of Canadian water priorities and allows us to draw out the themes that stretch across the jurisdictions,” he says. “Hopefully, it will give politicians the means to start making decisions.”

Sandford and FLOW, POLIS and ACT will be presenting Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on Our Water Future to Ottawa in hopes that it will launch a discussion on a national water strategy at the highest level.

The report will be available online at 12 noon CDT today, May 23, at www.poliswaterproject.org and www.act-adapt.org

To Interview Bob Sandford, please contact:
Bob Sandford
Mobile: 1-403-678-7003
Sandford@telusplanet.net

Paul Sullivan or Martin Livingston
BreakThrough Communications Inc.
Vancouver
604-685-4742

Laura Brandes
Communications Director,
POLIS Water Sustainability Project, University of Victoria
250-721-8189
communications@polisproject.org

About Bob Sandford:

Bob Sandford is the EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of United Nations “Water for Life” Decade an initiative aiming to translate scientific research outcomes into language decision-makers can use to craft timely and meaningful public policy. Bob also sits on the Advisory Committee for the prestigious Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy where he works to bring broad international examples to bear on Canadian water issues. He sits on the Advisory Board of Living Lakes Canada, the Canadian chapter of Living Lakes International, and is co-chair of the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW), a national water policy research group centered in Toronto. He is also a member of the Advisory Panel for the RBC Blue Water Project.

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Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on our Water Future

ACT’s recent release of the Climate Change Adaptation & Water Governance report was followed by a 16-city cross-Canada tour last October and November conducted by ACT water policy author Bob Sandford, co-chair of the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW) and one of Canada’s foremost water experts.

Over a two-month period, Sandford talked to hundreds of Canadians, getting a first-hand account of the state of fresh water across the country – the first time since the 1980s that anyone has taken the national pulse on water.

The 42-page report on the tour documents the growing need for solutions that transcend chronic jurisdictional challenges. The report, Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on our Water Future, is co-authored by Jesse Baltutis of the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, and Timothy Shah of Simon Fraser University’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), with guidance from Sandford. Both POLIS and ACT were partners with FLOW for the tour and the report.

The report is available on ACT’s Water Governance page. The complete national press release is also online.

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PICS White Paper: “The Regulation of District Energy Systems”

Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) is pleased to release a new White Paper: “The Regulation of District Energy Systems” by Peter Ostergaard (PDF). The paper examines the services, financials, governance and rate-setting frameworks for nine diverse District Energy (DE) systems in BC. It outlines risks associated with DE development, and concludes with a number of recommendations for policy-setters and developers to mitigate those risks and ensure that DE systems are energy efficient and cost effective.

www.pics.uvic.ca
www.sfu.ca/climatechange
PICS is a Founding member of the SFU Sustainability Network

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Introducing the Waterlution Vancouver Hub

The Waterlution Hub Network Presents:

Water and Energy: Exploring Essential Relationships

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
6:30 – 8:30pm, Doors at 6pm
YWCA Welch Room, 535 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Join us for the fifth in our series of Vancouver Hub events! This event will be Bullfrog Powered!
Free admission with registration – space is limited.  Beverages available for purchase.

What does it mean to be an energy producer?
What are the limitations and the opportunities?
With special guests from the energy sector and the community

  • When: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Doors at 6pm
  • Where: YWCA Welch Room, 53 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Who: Individuals of any age working on or simply passionate about water – across all contexts, sectors and stakeholder groups
  • How to register: Register now at http://waterlutionvancouverhub.eventbrite.ca. Contact Dana at dana@waterlution.org for further information or if you are interested in volunteering at the event.

We are also looking for talent, if you are an artist or feel you have skills you would like to contribute at future events- we would love to collaborate! Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Introducing the Waterlution Vancouver Hub!

The Waterlution Vancouver Hub works to develop and nurture inspired communities of water action by hosting year-round capacity-building opportunities.

Regular gatherings bring together water experts, stakeholders and the interested public to explore pertinent issues and creative solutions to regional water management questions. These innovative social events aim to inspire guests, while weaving knowledge on a relevant topic, provoking dialogue and facilitating action items. Each event is focused on a specific theme, stimulated by featured “provocateurs” – leading mentors with insight to share. www.waterlution.org

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More webinars from Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice

Please join Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice for the next OCCIAR webinar

On Thursday, May 24th 2012 from 1-2pm EDT, Ewa Jackson, Manager of ICLEI Canada, will be giving a webinar on “So Now What? An Introduction to Communicating Climate Change“. This webinar will serve as a crash-course on communicating climate change and translating communication into action. After an introduction into the basics of communications, the bulk of the presentation will focus on answering the five big questions: Who? What? Why? When? and How?. Join this webinar to learn more about the importance of creating locally tailored messages and how communities large and small have done this successfully!

Joining the webinar is easy! Simply call 1-647-426-3315 or toll free 1-866-387-4893, dial participant code 920492 and log in (as a guest) at http://mirarco.acrobat.com/climatechange. *If you plan to attend, please RSVP to amorand@mirarco.org.

Can you help answer the latest ‘Call for Knowledge’?

Prativa Pradhan needs your help: She is curious to know if any other provincial governments have guides on how to include climate change into Environmental Impact Assessments.  This could include reports, guides, regulations etc.  Nova Scotia published one such report, found here. If you can help Prativa with her call for knowledge, please click here.

There is a new addition to the CoP library!

Adapting to Climate Change: A Business Approach (2008) – This paper outlines a sensible business approach to analyzing and adapting to the physical risks of climate change. It focuses on a critical first step in assessing these climate impacts: understanding the potential risks to business and the importance of taking action to mitigate those risks.

Mark your calendars!

European Climate Change Adaptation Conference: Integrating Climate into Action (March 18-20, 2013) – This conference will bring together scientists and practitioners working on adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The conference will create a European forum bringing together world-class science, with the aim of fostering a creative dialogue with climate adaptation policy makers and practitioners. The theme of the conference is integrating climate into action.

Craving some adaptation reading material? Check you this recently posted news article:

Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation announces $7 million in funding for adaptation projects in Alberta

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Download the new WINTER 2012 edition of the FLOW Monitor

Winter 2012: Progress Towards Freshwater Policy Since 2007

Forum for Leadership On Water (FLOW) has released a special edition of the FLOW Monitor. It looks back at the progress made towards national freshwater protection since the publication of our 2007 document, Changing the Flow: A Blueprint for Federal Action on Freshwater (www.changingtheflow.ca). The articles, organized according to the seven priority areas identified in Changing the Flow, assess the level of action taken over the past five years to protect water. While the trend towards a diminishing role for the federal government is neither surprising nor new, we seek to stimulate thinking about where to go from here in this newsletter.

Read the release online.

Download the full report.

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POLIS Webinar – Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on Our Water Future

POLIS invites you to join the Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on Our Water Future webinar. Full details are available online.

Tuesday, May 29th 2012
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET (9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PT)

This is the fifth, and final, webinar in the POLIS Water Sustainability Project’s 2011/2012 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. Information on next year’s series will be available in early fall 2012.

Guest Speakers

Jesse Baltutis
Water Policy & Governance Research Assistant, POLIS Water Sustainability Project
Co-Author of Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on Our Water Future

Bob Sandford
Chair, Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade
Co-Author of Cross-Canada Checkup: A Canadian Perspective on Our Water Future

**SPACE IS LIMITED**
To register email Laura Brandes at communications@polisproject.org

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Taking the Plunge: No More Fence-Sitting

No More Fence-Sitting by Heather Armstrong

It occurred to me not that long ago, that I was no longer a “fence-sitter”. I had the awareness that my lifestyle was out of balance. I had finished university, was earning a reasonable wage and having fun with my financial freedom, however, deep down, I knew I was living a life that was far beyond what I wanted to be sustaining. Most of all, I was doing very little to change it.

Over the years, I have become informed on the importance of environmental awareness & simplifying life. While I could conceive there was meaning within the phrase “less is more”, there was far more talk than action in my life. In an effort to “save time”, I bought a car. No longer was I walking through vibrant East Vancouver or having conversations with my neighbours. I had become committed to a vehicle-based lifestyle and in the process I ended up losing the connection with something I cared deeply about: my community.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know how lost I was until I experienced true loss. In a short period of time, I suffered a serious injury leaving me in chronic pain and on disability alongside the tragic passing of a longtime friend. The grieving process was difficult but it provided me with some necessary perspective. With time, my body and heart began to heal but my life had become very different. I started asking myself what did I really want and what did it look like? The soul-searching process made it clear that things needed to change!

Once I had made the leap off the “fence”, it didn’t take long for me to see the benefits. Many of the changes I have made have been simple but significant. Taking transit saves me money and allows me to reconnect with my community. Volunteering with local environmental and labour organizations allows me to support them in amidst these challenging times. My household is currently working on our garden and the local farmer’s market will be starting up soon creating another option to reduce my footprint and support a great community hub. Other changes have been more substantial such as starting graduate school part-time and finding a new work position, which is jumpstarting a career transformation. My experiences have informed me that becoming more environmentally responsible can save money and is fulfilling by strengthening the bonds with my community.

Spring is an empowering time and the new ideas are blossoming. Future goals include having a more success in my garden, becoming a cycling commuter and building the skills necessary to mentor youth interested in environmental careers.  While sadly for me, it required a shocking reality check to “take the plunge”, I have come to realize the value in slowing down and spending time doing what you love.

Heather is working on her MA thesis, focusing on leadership and mentorship of young professionals in Canadian water organizations.

*Send us your adaptation stories to be considered for the ACT series about people who are Taking The Plunge. Please include your complete name and a one-line bio with your story. One page is the best maximum length.

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Taking the Plunge: Reducing My Carbon Footprint with Negawatts and Geothermal

Reducing My Carbon Footprint with Negawatts and Geothermal by Camille Minogue

My house was uninsulated and had oil heat, I drove a gasoline powered vehicle, and I was flitting all over the globe on exotic vacations. At the same time, I claimed to be concerned about the environment and climate change. Yes, there was something wrong with this picture.

Inspiration to change my ways finally came a few years back, when I attended the 2009 Reinventing Fire Symposium of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) in San Francisco. There I met some of today’s most inspirational thought leaders in the clean energy and environmental movement, including Amory Lovins and Paul Hawken. From them I learned about the “negawatt”, which is the energy you don’t use by taking measures to use energy more efficiently, how the electric car really is a viable alternative to a gasoline-powered one, how free-market pricing does not account for harm done to the environment or to human health, and how stewardship of the environment and capitalism are not necessarily incompatible.

Newly inspired to make negawatts, I insulated my house and installed Krypton triple-pane windows. I felt I was on the right track; I would use less heating oil. But then came a heating oil bill for $800. Despite cutting oil use, my heating costs were rising. To make matters worse, I learned from doing some research on the Internet that my oil furnace produced an astounding 16,000 pounds of carbon emissions annually. I began to look at my options.

Ultimately I was taken in by geothermal; it was everything I wanted – no carbon emissions, immune to the price of oil – but there was the initial cost challenge. It would require drilling three 200-foot holes for the pipes in addition to the new furnace, and it had a total price tag that was more than double that of simply converting to gas. “It just doesn’t pencil”, my best friend advised. “Just get gas. It’s cheap”, my dad weighed in. But using my own special calculus, geothermal did pencil, hands-down. I figured in the peace-of-mind value of having much more certainty in my future heating costs and the psychic benefit of knowing that my heating solution produces minimal carbon emissions.

With the success of the geothermal project, I am now even more inspired to further reduce my impact on the earth. I’ve committed to slowing down on the globetrotting, and to buying carbon offsets when I do, saving around 4,000 pounds of carbon emissions per year. In 2013 I plan to switch to an electric car, shaving off another 6,000 pounds annually. (I’ve settled on the sleek Tesla Model S Sport Sedan.) After that I’d like to tackle rainwater harvesting and solar power. A much prettier picture is coming into view.

Camille Minogue is an enthusiastic advocate for the environment. She currently enjoys an empty nest with her husband, Dan, and is the chief actuary for ICBC.

*Send us your adaptation stories to be considered for the ACT series about people who are Taking The Plunge. Please include your complete name and a one-line bio with your story. One page is the best maximum length.

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Adaptation to Sea Level Rise in Metro Vancouver: A Review of Literature for Historical Sea Level Flooding and Projected Sea Level Rise in Metro Vancouver

A new report, Adaptation to Sea Level Rise in Metro Vancouver: A Review of Literature for Historical Sea Level Flooding and Projected Sea Level Rise in Metro Vancouver, has been prepared by Patrick Forseth for The Adaptation to Climate Change Team in support of Session # 6 – Adaptation to Sea Level Rise. Download the full PDF report.

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Taking The Plunge: Send Us Your Story!

With all the information floating around about climate change and advice on ways people can live more harmoniously with the environment, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused.

But once in a while, it all comes together, and people feel inspired to take the plunge by making significant and satisfying changes to incorporate adaptation into their lifestyle.

ACT wants to hear from people who have been inspired to do just that – ACT!  What changed your mind? Was there a key tipping point? A government incentive? A family reason?

Send us your adaptation stories to be selected for the ACT blog series about people who are Taking The Plunge!  You never know – your story could be the one that inspires someone else to ACT.

Please include your complete name and a one-line bio with your story. One page is the best maximum length.

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City of Castlegar invitation to Extreme Weather and Infrastructure: How resilient is your community?

The City of Castlegar invites you to Extreme Weather and Infrastructure: How resilient is your community?, June 13 – 14, 2012.

This two-day workshop is for Local Government Staff and elected officials, especially operations & public works managers, planners & engineers

Register NOW to reserve your place!
Download a copy of the draft agenda (PDF).

The workshop will be delivered by Engineers Canada, hosted by the City of Castlegar, and supported by CBT’s Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative.

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